Routes into student engagement as part of the pedagogical reasoning of teachers
This paper reports on a large study investigating the pedagogical reasoning of 40 expert science teachers in Australia in an attempt to explicate expert practice. Over a three-year period, the teachers were divided into two cohorts involving both elementary and high school teachers of science. Each cohort experienced eight days of a professional program that helped to focus their attention and unpack the complex and detailed tacit knowledge about teaching ‘carried in their heads’. The main sources of data were the recorded planning conversations of teachers as they worked with peers in designing, preparing and developing a unit of work for their students along with interviews that were conducted with all 40 teachers involved in the project. Additional data was extracted from notes, summaries and conversations captured during the days of the professional program. Coding of these data identified major themes that were compared to those from an earlier pilot study. Emerging from a comparison of these analyses were four key foci, which form a framework for elucidating the tacit pedagogical reasoning of teachers. These included: Big ideas, Generation of quality learning and quality learners, Responding to contextual constraints and opportunities, Teacher personal and professional identify, and Routes to engagement. Careful mapping of teacher thinking (as evidenced from their conversations) between these foci demonstrated rapid and complex movement from one focus to the other as teachers planned their teaching. We termed this ‘pinball reasoning’. Within this paper we report on the findings in relation to latter focus, Routes to engagement using the phenomena of pinball reasoning to discuss the multiple ways teachers could be led to thinking about engagement.
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